Ultimate Moving to USA Checklist: Your Essential Guide

Ultimate Moving to the USA Checklist (1)
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Making the leap to live in the United States can be overwhelming, but with the right moving to USA checklist, you’re set for success. From visas to vital preparations, we provide the essential items to check off for a well-organised and smooth transition. This guide is your stepping-stone to understanding what lies ahead without spoiling the detailed advice that follows.

With international removals to the USA, the actual moving part is easy, as we take care of everything for you. But in this guide, we cover the other essential things you need to get right, including selecting the correct visa, preparing your finances, arranging healthcare and integrating into everyday American life.

Preparing for Your Move to the USA

Moving to another country is not simply about packing your bags and hopping on a plane. It requires meticulous planning and preparation long before you step foot on American soil.

From understanding the visa process to organising your finances, every step is crucial to the success of your relocation journey.

One of the most daunting aspects of any international move is the visa application process. Navigating the myriad of visa categories, meeting the specific criteria, and ensuring a successful application can feel overwhelming. However, with the right understanding and guidance, it need not be a daunting task.

Visa Selection and Application

Choosing the right visa or green card is the first and most critical step when planning your move to the USA. The USA offers a wide range of visas, each catering to specific circumstances and needs. These include:

  • H-1B visa for work
  • F-1 visa for students
  • J-1 visa for exchange visitors
  • K-1 visa for fiancé(e)s
  • O-1 visa for individuals with extraordinary ability

The visa application process is a step-by-step journey. It begins with:

  1. Having a sponsor, be it your family member, a U.S. citizen, or a prospective U.S. employer, file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. Once the petition is approved, the case will be pre-processed by the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), depending on the type of visa.
  3. Following this, you will need to adhere to the Immigrant Visa Process or the Diversity Visa Process as outlined on the official U.S. visas website.

Organising Finances

When moving to a new country, having your finances in order is vital for UK citizens. This includes setting up a US bank account, which can save you from international fees and simplify your transactions after moving. Several leading financial institutions in the USA offer banking services to non-residents, including:

  • JP Morgan & Chase
  • Bank of America
  • Wells Fargo Bank
  • Citibank

They typically require Proof of ID and proof of address at the post office to open an account.

You may also need to transfer money from your home country to the USA. Using a foreign exchange service with competitive rates, like the VIP service offered to our customers by FC Global, can optimise these international money transfers.

Health Insurance and Medical Records

Securing health insurance is a vital part of preparing for your move to the USA. The US healthcare system does not provide universal public healthcare, and medical services can be costly without insurance. Therefore, it is crucial to purchase comprehensive travel and medical insurance before moving to the USA.

In addition to securing health insurance, it is equally important to:

  • Organise and bring along your personal medical records to ensure continuity of care in the USA.
  • Before leaving your home country, renew any prescriptions to ensure a sufficient medication supply for at least the initial months after arriving in the USA.
  • Inform your General Practitioner (GP) about your move and request to be removed from the national health register, as you will no longer be automatically entitled to national health treatment after moving to the USA.

Packing and Shipping Belongings

Packing and shipping your belongings is another critical aspect of your move to the USA. To ensure a smooth process, it is recommended to start by getting quotes from at least three different specialist international moving companies. These moving company can provide a free home survey, giving you an accurate estimate of what you will be shipping.

Of course, Simpsons International Removals should be top of your list!

When it’s time to start packing, here are some tips to consider:

  • Choose sustainable and eco-friendly packing materials.
  • Prepare an inventory list of all packed items.
  • Create a ‘bits box’ for essentials like cutlery, plates, and items for the first night.
  • You can choose between air freight, which is faster but more expensive, or sea container shipping, which is more economical for larger volumes of belongings.

For temporary or uncertain stays, consider using storage options in your home country for belongings that are not immediately necessary. Simpsons International Removals can help you with this.

Finding a Place to Live

Once you’ve sorted out your visa and packed your belongings, the next crucial step is securing a place to live in the USA. Initially, you might opt for short-term accommodation, such as an Airbnb room, a vacation home, or a shared apartment.

These options provide flexibility and convenience, allowing you to settle in and get acquainted with your new surroundings before committing to a long-term rental or purchase.

When you’re ready to find a long-term home, platforms like Airbnb offer furnished monthly rentals suitable for extended stays. These rentals often come with inclusive amenities like high-speed Wi-Fi and dedicated workspaces. They’re available at special monthly rates without extra charges, making them an ideal option for work relocations or longer stays.

Renting vs Buying

When deciding between renting and buying a home in the USA, consider factors like the duration of your stay, budget, and credit history. Renting provides flexibility and can be more cost-effective in the short term due to the lower upfront investment.

If you decide to rent, be prepared to provide a range of important documents to your potential landlord. These typically include a signed letter from your employer, proof of income, and three months of bank statements. You may also need to provide up to three months’ rent as a security deposit.

Utilities and Services Setup

Setting up utilities and services in your new home is a crucial step towards settling into your new life in the USA. Start this process at least three weeks before you move. Essential utilities include:

  • Electricity
  • Natural gas
  • Water and sewer
  • Trash and recycling pickup
  • Cable and internet
  • Potentially home security

When it comes to managing these services, contact the providers to transfer, cancel, or set up new services. Provide the appropriate addresses and the requested start or shutdown dates. Most utility companies will require payment information, conduct credit checks, or ask for a security deposit when setting up services.

To make your home more energy-efficient and lower utility bills, consider installing programmable thermostats, using LED lights, and choosing ENERGY STAR appliances.

Employment and Education

Finding employment and understanding the education system in the USA are two key aspects of your relocation journey.

The US education system is categorised into three levels: elementary school, middle school, and high school. In the early stages, unlike in many other countries, the US education system places less emphasis on examinations, with students graduating high school as generalists.

When it comes to employment, it’s essential to understand how you’ll sustain yourself financially in the USA. This includes considering:

  • Job options
  • Healthcare expenses
  • Access to pensions
  • Tax obligations

Depending on your career goals, you might also want to explore higher education options in the USA.

However, due to visa restrictions, if you’re moving to the U.S. from the UK, you’ll likely have a job and an employer sponsor already lined up, so this will be a lot smoother.

Job Search Strategies

Finding a job in a new country can be challenging – even if you have a job you may be moving with a partner who will need to find one.

There are several strategies that can help you navigate the U.S. job market. Online job search resources like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor, as well as LinkedIn, offer numerous job opportunities within the USA.

Networking is also crucial when seeking employment. Attend job fairs and employment events to meet recruiters and learn about industry trends. You can also work with recruiters who can provide access to job opportunities that might not be publicly advertised.

Remember, it’s important to tailor your resume and cover letter for each job application, highlighting your relevant skills and experience.

Public School Enrolment

If you’re moving to the USA with your family, understanding the process of enrolling your children in school is crucial. All children, irrespective of their national origin, citizenship, or immigration status, have the right to enrol in public schools in the USA.

Schools typically require proof of residency in the school district, such as utility bills or lease agreements, for enrolment. However, they are prohibited from asking about a child’s immigration status. In the absence of documents like birth certificates or social security numbers, school districts must still enrol students.

Building Your New Life in the USA

Once you’ve navigated the process of moving to the USA, the next step is to fully integrate into your new community.

This involves understanding the local customs and etiquette, establishing a social security number, and building a credit history.

One of the best ways to feel at home in a new country is to engage with the local community and participate in events. Joining local volunteer organisations and groups or clubs based on your hobbies or interests can help you establish new friendships and integrate into society.

Social Security Number (SSN)

Obtaining a Social Security Number (SSN) is a critical step in establishing your new life in the USA. An SSN is required for:

  • Employment
  • Reporting wages
  • Verifying identity
  • Work eligibility
  • Filing federal and state tax returns in the U.S.

Beyond employment, an SSN is crucial for financial transactions such as applying for loans and credit cards. It also helps to ensure a broader range of options for opening checking and savings accounts.

Additionally, an SSN is typically required to access government benefits and services in the U.S., including Medicare, disability benefits, and unemployment assistance.

Building Credit History

In the USA, a good credit score is crucial for landlords, potential employers, and lending agencies. It indicates how reliably you’ve met your financial obligations in the past. Building a good credit score is important for obtaining loans, credit cards, and certain contracts.

To build your credit score, you can start by applying for a secured credit card. These cards are backed by money in a checking account and help demonstrate responsible credit behaviour. Managing a credit score effectively involves paying off at least the minimum payment every month, keeping credit utilization low, and using the card regularly as a responsible borrower.

Navigating American Customs and Etiquette

Understanding local customs and etiquette is an important part of integrating into American society. For instance, tipping a percentage of 15% to 20% is customary for services such as dining out, using a taxi, and at hotels. Personal space is generally valued, with about 2 feet of distance maintained in conversations.

When visiting someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host. Punctuality is highly regarded in American culture, with an expectation to arrive on time for work, classes, and social events. By understanding and observing these customs, you can navigate social situations with ease and display politeness in your interactions.

Hiring a Relocation Company

Hiring an international relocation company can significantly ease the stress of moving. These companies provide assistance with:

  • Planning
  • Customs
  • Housing
  • Settling in

They offer a tailored service to suit your individual needs.

Choosing the right relocation company involves considering:

  • Their professional checks
  • Insurance coverage
  • Qualifications
  • Certifications
  • Adherence to a code of practice

Customer reviews and personal recommendations are also valuable in assessing the reliability and quality of a relocation company.

Are you looking to move to the USA from the UK?

Moving to the USA involves a series of steps, from visa applications and financial planning to finding a place to live, securing employment, and integrating into the local community. It’s a journey that requires preparation, patience, and an open mind. But with the right guidance, it’s a journey that can lead to a rewarding new chapter of life in the USA.

At Simpsons International Removals, our aim is to offer all-encompassing aid to facilitate a hassle-free move. Should you require help with transporting your household items, including container shipping to the USA, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.


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